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Planetary ball mills are well known and used for particle size reduction on laboratory and pilot scales for decades while during the last few years the application of planetary ball mills has extended to mechanochemical approaches. Processes inside planetary ball mills are complex and strongly depend on the processed material and synthesis and, thus, the optimum milling conditions have to be assessed for each individual system. The present review focuses on the insight into several parameters like properties of grinding balls, the filling ratio or revolution speed. It gives examples of the aspects of grinding and illustrates some general guidelines to follow for modelling processes in planetary ball mills in terms of refinement, synthesis' yield and contamination from wear. The amount of energy transferred from the milling tools to the powder is significant and hardly measurable for processes in planetary ball mills. Thus numerical simulations based on a discrete-element-method are used to describe the energy transfer to give an adequate description of the process by correlation with experiments. The simulations illustrate the effect of the geometry of planetary ball mills on the energy entry. In addition the imaging of motion patterns inside a planetary ball mill from simulations and video recordings is shown.